Sophia Li, of Acton, was in the Engineering Technology career major and the Valedictorian for the Class of 2019. She continued her studies with Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh after being accepted to seven colleges or universities. At Minuteman, Sophia was a Student Ambassador, president of Girls in STEM, president of the Math Club, a member of Skills USA, and a player on the girls’ soccer and basketball teams.
Q: Why did you choose Minuteman?
I knew if I went to a traditional high school, I might not have as many opportunities to explore what I was interested in. In middle school, I attended the Girls in STEM Camp at Minuteman, and I knew if I went to Minuteman I’d have more opportunities to build and create. At first, I wasn’t sure what engineering was, but I wanted to explore it. When I went to Minuteman, I found what I really loved.
Q: How did your experience at Minuteman help you in college?
The Girls in STEM program at Minuteman opened so many doors for me. My first job was working at Minuteman’s Girls in STEM Camp, and it inspired me to create a culture of inclusion for girls and women in STEM.
At Carnegie Mellon University, I’m the Mentoring Chair for the Society of Women Engineers. That role helps me win opportunities for scholarships to attend conferences where I can meet with employers, and that’s going to help me with job opportunities. Now, I am working as a teaching assistant. Looking back, I’m just so grateful for Girls in STEM.
Q: What was it like to start Carnegie Mellon as a freshman?
It was a bit daunting, but I was excited. I loved the campus because it was so beautiful. There were so many opportunities – research, hackathons, clubs, jobs. Everything was pretty open to freshmen participating in things; it was very easy to get involved.
Q: What was one of your favorite experiences at Minuteman?
Definitely my senior project. We were moving into a new school building, and our Engineering shop had 10 or 12 ginormous PLC (programmable logic control) boards that would not fit into the space at the new school. Our project was to figure out how to get them inside. If the school purchased new boards, it would have cost more than $12,000. My teacher said, “OK, I’m the client. I need you to take these boards and shrink them.” I made the boards into these small, portable sequences. We had a project timeline and budget. We had to make sure they were up to code. In the end, we saved the school a lot of money!
Q: What’s your message for students thinking about joining Minuteman?
Take the opportunities that are here. Don’t be afraid; you should always go for them.